The Mystery of Japanese Road Repair
Japanese “The Way of the Bump” Road Repair ugly, careless patch in the middle of a newly-paved road -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl,
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Japanese “The Way of the Bump” Road Repair
ugly, careless patch in the middle of a newly-paved road

You know the old saying “If you want it to rain, wash the car”..., well, something along the same lines in Japan might be “If you want someone to hack up your street and leave it a bumpy, jumbled mess of uneven bone-jarring patches, pave it.

A stretch of Teramachi St. near Anthony's kindergarten was, for years, one of the worst streets in Kyoto. It was paved recently, but before that – I really should have taken a picture – there wasn't an inch of the stretch I used that was original. It was a literal patchwork of years of cut-dig-patch cycles.

There's apparently a lot under Japanese roads – especially the smaller ones in residential areas – that someone always seems to need access to. One house needs to replace the water line... another the gas line... a third the sewer line... oops, the water line that was replaced two weeks ago was the wrong color, so it needs to be replaced again. It never seems to end. With each, the construction company that gets the job comes out, sets up their orange cones and disrupts traffic while they use a big cutter to slice through the road asphalt. After they do whatever they where hired to do, they dump some hot asphalt into the hole and run away. No one seems to care that they've now left a big uneven bump where the road used to be.

What I find particularly amazing is that when a road is repaved, it's almost inevitable that it will get one of these bumpy patches in very short order. I've seen it happen time and time again. You suffer through the construction while the road is repaved, and a week or two later, before your rejoicing at the beautiful, smooth, not-ugly-looking pavement has even started to subside, someone comes and puts a big ugly bone-jarring wart in it AND NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE! (except me, I guess).

And so it was with Teramachi St. It's the most convenient access for Anthony's school, but it was so bumpy that I tried to avoid it until it was paved recently, after which it was smoooooooth and wonderful. A few weeks later, right on schedule, boom, a big ugly bumpy patch in the newly-paved street and the newly-paved sidewalk. Sigh. At least this patch was smoother than most, but that counts for little because I'm sure it's only a short matter of time before the next dozen careless, bumpy patches. 🙁

So, I went and took a picture one day with the intent to write this post, but I waited to long to do the writing. Had I actually written and published the post when I took the picture last month, it would be with great satisfaction to report that this week, the ugly patch was replaced by a much smoother, much less ugly width-of-the-street patch. I've never seen that, and so would have taken credit for it. 🙂

All 7 comments so far, oldest first...

This big-ugly-bumpy-patch in the nice-newly-paved-road thing… it’s getting to you, isn’t it? 😉

— comment by Jon Van Dalen on July 18th, 2008 at 7:29am JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I love how the biker has the time to check his phone or make a call, interesting isin’t it? Maybe he should’ve smiled for the camera.

However, that road is quite impressive for my standards. You see, those a nice shiny developed country road, whereas you should see the roads in the Dominican Republic, pave ever so often and most of them have holes, bumps and the occasional car parked in the no parking zone.

— comment by Jorge on July 18th, 2008 at 10:16am JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey, this type of thing happens everywhere. It’s worse in New York(where I reside), it comes to a point where you just get used to it. But, it IS frustrating to see a newly paved road messed up by a patch like that.

— comment by Bob on July 18th, 2008 at 1:35pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I like the apparent fact that the guy texting on his phone while biking is such a common occurrence ’round your nick of the woods that it doesn’t even bear mentioning. When I saw the photo, I thought “texting while biking” would be the topic of the post! Heh.

Hah, now that you mention it, I do see the guy on the bike. Didn’t even notice him at first. Bike-riding texters are so common I guess I’ve learned to just filter them out. —Jeffrey

PS: I feel compelled to somewhat shamefully confess that nearly every time I post a comment here, I get the “oops, you forgot to type Jeffrey’s name” error message. Sigh…

— comment by Joanna on July 18th, 2008 at 2:31pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I live in Burbank, CA. The city has more money than they know what to do with and are constantly repaving streets that are perfectly fine. However the bordering city is North Hollywood, technically part of the City of Los Angeles. The streets there are HORRID, I don’t think they have ever been repaved once in my life time.

Here is a typical NoHo street

Typical Burbank street a few blocks away

My girlfriend’s father said they took out most of the beautiful stone streets in Tokyo because protesters in the 60s would pull out stones from the streets and throw them.
I would imagine when repairs to the streets were needed, it would have been a lot easier to put the stones back in place for a uniform look and feel…

— comment by Michael Menichetti on July 18th, 2008 at 4:39pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I guess it’s funny what bugs people. The bumps and holes would irritate me, but the asthetics of the surface on which I drive are very far under my irritation radar. I couldn’t care less if the color of the asphault doesn’t match. If it’s smooth, they could paint it lime green with purple and orange dots and I wouldn’t care 🙂

FYI, “Bone-jarring” is not a color. —Jeffy

— comment by Marcina on July 19th, 2008 at 10:19pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

You used “ugly” or “not ugly” 6 times in this post. So there.

— comment by Marcina on July 19th, 2008 at 10:29pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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